Nov 26 (Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
S.Africa detects new COVID-19 variant
South African scientists said they have detected a new COVID-19 variant in small numbers and are working to understand its potential implications. The variant – called B.1.1.529 – has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations, which are concerning because they could help it evade the body’s immune response and make it more transmissible, scientists told reporters at a news conference.
Early signs from diagnostic laboratories suggest the variant has rapidly increased in the most populated province of Gauteng and may already be present in the country’s other eight provinces, they said. The variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong. read more
Shanghai cuts tourism on resurgent COVID
A handful of local COVID-19 cases in eastern parts of China have prompted Shanghai city to limit tourism activities and a nearby city to cut public transportation services, as China insists on zero tolerance against letting clusters spread.
Shanghai has suspended travel agencies from organising tourism that involves trips between the city and other province-level regions. The financial hub of 24.9 million residents has sealed up a few residential compounds deemed of higher infection risk, and two local hospitals have halted some face-to-face services to comply with COVID control. read more
Vietnam says Pfizer, MSD to grant its firms licenses to produce COVID-19 pills
Drugmakers Pfizer Inc and MSD, which is known as Merck & Co Inc in the United States and Canada, have agreed to give licenses to firms in Vietnam to produce COVID-19 treatment pills, Vietnam’s ministry of health said on Friday. read more
Locked in hotels: Mental toll on Hong Kong’s Cathay pilots
One of Asia’s largest airlines, Cathay Pacific, is facing a revolt from pilots who say Hong Kong’s tough quarantine rules under its zero-COVID policies are endangering their mental health, leading to rising stress and resignations. Hong Kong classifies many destinations including the United States and Britain as “high-risk,” meaning Cathay pilots flying passengers inbound from those places are subject to two weeks of hotel quarantine.
To staff those flights, Cathay started running “closed-loop” rosters on a voluntary basis in February involving five consecutive weeks locked in hotel rooms with no access to fresh air or a gym and then two weeks off at home. read more
UK data shows high safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy
COVID-19 vaccination is safe for pregnant women and not associated with higher rates of complications, data released by the UK Health Security Agency showed on Thursday, as officials urged pregnant women to take up the offer of shots. The UKHSA data found that vaccinated women had a stillbirth rate of 3.35 per 1,000, slightly lower than the rate of 3.60 per 1,000 in unvaccinated women.
The health ministry said catching COVID-19 came with much bigger risks than having the vaccine, adding that only 22% of women who gave birth in August were vaccinated. read moreCompiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips
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This article was originally published by Reuters.